The most dangerous type of driving behavior may not be what you think it is. In fact, while most people know that getting behind the wheel after having one-too-many to drink is a major risk, and that one should never text while driving, few think twice about the dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car after not getting a good night’s sleep. But statistics show that drowsy driving can be very dangerous, and sometimes is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Drowsy drivers may not mean to do it, but when they get behind the wheel of a car, they are endangering themselves and others on the road. If you are hit by a fatigued driver in West Virginia, you can submit a claim for personal injuries, and our experienced lawyers will be by your side to help you navigate the claims process and fight for your right to recover compensation for your losses.
Why Drowsy Driving Is So Dangerous
Drowsy driving is a top killer on American roadways, with DrowsyDriving.org citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Foundation, which estimates that there are more than 100,000 crashes every year that are the direct result of driver fatigue. These crashes cause approximately 1,550 deaths and more than 70,000 injuries.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety explains that drowsy driving may be so dangerous because it has an impairing effect that is very similar to the effect that consuming alcohol has on the body. Indeed, fatigue slows reaction time and response time, and impairs decision-making abilities. A study published by the foundation also found that driving while fatigued significantly increases crash risk; the rate of crash is 11.5 times greater for drivers who sleep fewer than four hours a night, 4.3 times greater for drivers who sleep between four and five hours a night, and 1.9 times greater for drivers who sleep between five and six hours per night.
Who’s Most at Risk of Driving While Drowsy?
While anyone can fall victim to fatigue and get behind the wheel while drowsy, certain parties are more at risk. These include those who:
- Have a sleep disorder;
- Young people – especially males under age 26;
- Shift workers and those who work long shifts and night shifts;
- Commercial truck drivers; and
- Business travelers who suffer from jet lag.
Consistently missing sleep or changing one’s sleep schedule increases the risk of drowsy driving. However, even missing a single night of good sleep can impair one’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
What Happens When a Drowsy Driver Causes a Crash?
Drivers who are fatigued may have a hard time reacting to a hazard on the road, such as braking in time if a vehicle in front of them stops. They may also have impaired judgement, or have trouble concentrating. In some cases, they may even fall asleep at the wheel. If any of these occur, an accident is almost inevitable, and head-on collisions, rear-end crashes, T-bone accidents, sideswipe collisions, and rollovers are all possible.
Depending upon the force involved, the damages from a drowsy driving related crash may be very serious. For example, if a driver falls asleep at the wheel and drifts into the wrong lane, heading into the direction of oncoming traffic, a head-on crash could occur that proves fatal, or leaves all parties involved with serious and permanent injuries.
Even when a drowsy driver doesn’t mean to cause a crash, if the crash was their fault, they will be held liable for damages. To recover compensation for any damages that you have suffered, you will need to file a car accident claim with the insurance company of the fatigued driver. To recover your full settlement amount, you will have to prove that the accident would not have occurred but for the actions of the other driver. You will also need to prove that you have suffered the injuries and damages that you are claiming to have suffered.
Sometimes, proving that a drowsy driver was to blame for an accident can be difficult to do. If you need help gathering and presenting evidence, our experienced personal injury attorneys will be ready to support you. We have the resources necessary to fully investigate your case, and work with accident reconstruction and other experts when necessary.
While most car accident cases are settled outside of court, if you cannot reach a fair settlement with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, you can bring forth a lawsuit directly against the driver who caused your crash.
Representing You After a Crash with a Fatigued Driver
Getting behind the wheel while fatigued is an easy, yet very dangerous, mistake to make. Indeed, most people have probably driven after not getting enough sleep at least once in their life.
But the fact that drowsy driving may not seem like an intentional act of negligence does not mean that a person whose drowsiness causes a crash should not be held liable for damages. At the law offices of Bailey, Javins, & Carter L.C., our aggressive drowsy driving lawyers know that these crashes can be serious, and that bringing forth a claim may be the only way to recover the compensation that you need to pay for your property damage, medical expenses, and other economic and noneconomic losses.
When you call our law firm, we will immediately get to work investigating your crash and determining how the accident occurred. We talk with eyewitnesses, the police, and any necessary experts. From there, we also valuate your damages so as to calculate what your claim is worth, and how much you deserve in compensation. After presenting your case and sending a demand letter, we negotiate on your behalf to reach a settlement that offers you every penny’s worth of your losses.
We know that being in a crash is hard, and that bringing forth a claim can be confusing and emotional. When you’ve been hit by a fatigued driver, our team will be here to support and guide you. Consultations with our law office are free, so there is no reason not to call us as soon as possible at 800-497-0234 to schedule yours. You can also send us an email with a brief description of your case, or drop by our offices if you’re in the area. We hope you’ll choose us when you need competent legal representation.